‘Thanks to my son,I did Slumdog,I didn’t know who Danny Boyle was’

The face of <B><font color="#cc000">Slumdog Millionaire</font></B> in India,Bollywood actor <B><font color="#cc000">Anil Kapoor</font></B> can be described as ‘ageless’. In this interaction with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief <B><font color="#cc000">Shekhar Gupta</font></B> on NDTV 24x7’s <B><font color="#cc000">Walk the Talk</font></B>,Anil Kapoor talks about how he reinvented himself,his advice to his daughter,and how he once tried to change his surname....

Published: February 23, 2009 3:27:59 am

Shekhar Gupta: Hello and welcome to walk the talk. I am shekhar gupta and my guest this week is a film star who is not just an evergreen filmstar but who actually gets younger with age. And almost at my age anil kapoor romances teenagers…

Anil Kapoor: I think I am elder to you

Shekhar Gupta: Just a little bit. But I’ll take that,if I could look like you and get away with it

Anil Kapoor: Well,its wonderful to meet you,shekhar saab and great to be in delhi

Wonderful to chat with you and….I know there’s big excitement now with Slumdog and etc,etc and all you’ve done. But you know meanwhile we can’t let this forget people that anil kapoor is the one of the most durable stars in the last 20 years or so,in fact almost 30 years now

Yes,well

You made your debut in 1979 at the age of 18.

Seventeen,seventeen. Yeah 79. that was I started with bit role in little bit of south Indian films and then I became,you know,by mistake I became a reel man,by mistake I became a hero

By mistake you became a funny man,by mistake you became a quiz master

Galti se. I never really seeked for anything.

You became a quiz master where someone else missed it ….shah rukh didn’t take that role….

Aamir ne bhola bhaiyya…you know…whenever you refuse any films…shah rukh,aamir,….tho sab mere paas bejo….

Kuch faida ho jaaye

Kuch faida ho jaaye

So more than 30 years in cinema…how do you keep redefining yourself.

Well,I think from the time I started my career,you know like for example….us waqt sab guitar aur jeans and motorbikes wagera karte the….us waqt bhi maine aisi filme ki…you know which were unconventional…..my first film was with Satyu,then I worked with Mani Ratnam,I worked with Baapu saab,and…my first commercially mainstream film was Wo Saat Din where I played music director,I wanted to be a music director,Prem Pratap Patiala ho jaaye…which was completely unconventional…so I’ve always done these kind of films which are completely out of the box and I didn’t want…I had a Kapoor surname…Mein bole yaar,isse kaise hatte hum?

But you were in no relation with kapoors,no second cousins,no third cousins

No,no…not even fifith and sixth man. Daboo always says we are relatives through satellite …but we are friends,we are very close friends

It’s like in the hotel industry. If you are Oberoi you are in trouble,because everybody presumes you are related,you are part of the Oberoi family

No,no,no…absolutely

In movies,if you are a Kapoor

And if in politics,you are Gandhi

You’ll not be in trouble,you may do well actually

So that’s it,you know. That’s the way I’ve been

But you know a lot of people confuse you with just another,one more Kapoor

No,I saw to it that doesn’t happen…I was that was done very very…you know thought…. I’ve really thought about it,that’s the reason I started my career with these kind of films and these kind of directors,and I said,so that people know that….

And you never thought of dropping your second name or changing it

No no no. Nahin,maine wo bhi khoshish kiyi thi. Maine apni pehle telugu film kiyi thi,tho maine naam rakha tha …A K Rao

Oh,I see…

Yeah yeah,A K Rao. If you see that film Monso Raksham which I did in telugu. Us waqt waha N T Rao bhi bahut famous the,I was trying to be,kuch bhi hoke,inki luck se shayad mein bhi hero ban jaon,star ban jaon. So that’s the reason I tried Rao,but then I came back here and

But in Hindi I think Kapoor would work better than Rao

Would work better. And now Khan

Now Khan.You do never try that

Internationally try kar letha hoon

Haan,who bhi try karke dekiye. Age is still on your side. So,tell us about your evolution,because people tell me that you,Jackie Shroff,Sunny Deol,Sanjay Dutt,are like the same vintage. Those of you who have tried to redefine themselves have succeeded and are still around,namely you and Sanjay Dutt. But you’ve done it in your different ways. So how does a star redefine himself without being a father or uncle in every movie

Well,you know,like…..I feel,I think,it’s basically,physically sabse pehle tho you’ve to maintain yourself. You know,you have to look fit. People don’t mind if you have wrinkles,they don’t mind whatever the way you change. But you should look fit and fresh. You know,they don’t mind. And you should look lean. This is what I feel. And then the roles that you do. The kind of directors that you want to work with and constantly you can’t keep on thinking that you want to become a bigger and a bigger and a bigger star. What you have to think,how you excel yourself as an actor. And that’s what I have done,you know,constantly there were times when a lot of money was offered to me but I didn’t accept that money. You know,I did the film for a much lower price,so that I could get a good role

Give me an example of a film that you did for a less price

I think all the films that I’ve done for a less price have worked

I think,Slumdog,in particular

Yes,Slumdog was…You know,man in fact,whatever I… I’ve almost taken nothing absolutely and as a gesture the producer has given me a…..I am the only actor who has got a bank end point (???)…perpetually,with all the profits…which is great….because I didn’t ask for it

How does it work

Whatever the profits will be,I’ll get a certain kind of,you know,little bit of money

But Slumdog has given you almost what more than any other movie has given you,already

Can you believe this,can you believe this,I can’t believe this myself…I feel I am still dreaming,absolutely. It’s given me a certain kind of exposure and an audience which I could’ve never dreamt

Also in so many ways you’ve become a spokesman for Slumdog

Yes,in a way,Danny did say that I am like the brand ambassador of Slumdog in India especially and you know,because I was the face which you know,they felt, ….I did it …I really got along with the entire unit. You know,it was a wonderful experience working with all the people involved

And so many bachaas

So many bachaas. Absolutely. They were wonderful.

Did it remind you of your childhood? Because I believe you spent your childhood in a chawl

Yeah,it’s not…..you can call it a chawl,you can call,it was in Chembur…a kind of a colony in which you had only one room and…

And a shared toilet…

Yeah,yeah,yeah….we had to share the toilet,we had to stand in line

With a queue outside

Queue outside…so,I’ve got lot of memories about….I think those were the best years of my life,you know,first 12 years,12-15 years in Chembur were fantastic actually. I always go back,I go there every year and it was wonderful

That was your School of Hard Nox

Absolutely…that was a school….obviously,and then I went and stayed in…I think I stayed in Chembur and sayin coleva (???)….that was also one of the suburbs of Bombay. You know,I’ve seen a lot of Mumbai evolving

And the family had dreams of cinema….

No,no not my family

Your father tried

My father tried…

…. And it didn’t work. He tried to produce

You see,he worked. He definitely,you can’t say it didn’t work because he was a popular man. He was very very popular. People really respected him and that really helped me and you know whatever I….

Your mom and Mrs. Raj Kapoor are friends

Yeah,very close friends. My mom and Mrs Raj Kapoor are inseperable,absolutely,for almost 60 years now. Absolutely,they are really really very close and that’s the reason,you know,I am you know very close to the Kapoor family

Without being one of those Kapoors

Yeah yeah absolutely

And yet your daughter makes a debut with a Kapoor

Yes,it’s all coincidence. Can you believe this,it’s like a script,you know,kabhi sochi nahi sakte ki hum ki meri beti,my daughter would work with Rishi’s son

Rishi and Neetu’s son

Raj Kapoor’s grandson..you know,because we used to look up….we still look up to the Kapoor family and you know,for example,Prithvi raj Kapoor…the great Prithviraj Kapoor actually got my father to the Indian film industry…to Mumbai and he worked as an assistant to K Asaf in Mugh e azam …and then he became Shammi Kapoor’s secretary and then he did his first film…

So not the family,but had always something to do with the Kapoors

Absolutely

Does your father talk about those days being Shammi Kapoor’s secretary must’ve been something…if the man is as crazy as he seems to be

Great stories…great great stories

What’s your favourite

Every story is like …you know,every night there would be a huge party and he used to be a very large hearted person

And the last person as well…

Last person as well…lot of stories in Kashmir when they used to go to shoot in Kashmir and fantastic stories…and sometimes they had these open convertible car and they used to start from sayen san (???) with a bottle of whisky and by the time they would reach town they would finish the whole bottle of whisky,you know,that kind of thing,just the drive and there wouldn’t be much traffic and they would finish the bottle and those kind of stories..great stories….and basically about food and drinking only

I know….All the things you’ve denied yourself all these years

I think that’s one of the reason…is liye shaayad I don’t drink,I don’t smoke,I’ve tried,but…

And what’s the reason you never gave gossip magazines anything to talk about

Well,I tried my best,really I tried my best

30 years…no affairs,no kahaanis

Shekhar,I’ve tried my best…ki mere bhi kuch controversies ho,mere bhi naam chappe,mein bhi premier pe jaaon ek girlfriend ke saath,you know Anil Kapoor with his girlfriend and all

Baat nahin bane mere

Iske matlab,you were so clever nobody caught you

Yeah,I am very clever. Absolutely. I tried my best

In stardom,that’s not the idea. In stardom the idea is to get caught once in a while

Yeah,but,I think I’ll do that in Hollywood..wahaan koshish kar lo…

As I say,you still have age on your side unlike the rest of us. Tell us about how you evolved into a funny man. For example the recent ones,No Entry for instance I saw it on a flight

Welcome…

You found it funny? Lots of people found it funny…I think Baapu Saab was responsible for this. Mr Baapu,the director of my first film,Woh Saat din. He’s a great director and I really learnt a lot from him and the timing….the timing of comedy…I think he just gave me that confidence. If you see Woh Saat din also,there’s a lot of scenes which are funny,very very funny,without trying to be funny

Right

And then Mr India of course and Jawed saab also was of great help. His writing is so funny

But comedy comes naturally to you

Comedy kaisi cheez aap kisi ko sikha nahin sakti. Director cannot tell you ki aisa karo

Even in my business,in writing,nothing is more disastrous than an attempt at humour gone wrong

Yes,yes,yes. Absolutely. I don’t want to name anyone

Since you read,I know,you better not. I am telling in my business,you are telling in yours

Absolutely

You make fun of people in your business,not in mine

Yeah,yeah. But these days there is a ban. Nobody is going to make any fun of anyone

Absolutely

No award functions,nothing,after this Screen Awards

Screen awards,yes

Suddenly everybody becomes serious

It went so well,sometimes you can ask me if this was set up,a whole conspiracy for TRPs

It’s sad there won’t be no funny scenes on the….

So tell me,what talk happens in your household…you romancing the same young women your daughter could be having coffee with

Yeah yeah…

…and exchanging gossip with…

Obviously my children are fed up of me. My family,my wife and everybody is fed up of me. So,they are very embarrassed sometimes,you know. They don’t let me wear certain kinds of clothes which I want to wear,they don’t want me to do films I want to do…father ko chod,they want me to straight away do grandfather’s role…father tho dhoor ki baat hein

So are they embarrassed their dad start looking their age,start acting your age

No,no no not that way. For example,I did Slumdog Millionaire. It’s thanks to my son. Obviously it’s a fact. He’s the one who…you know,I didn’t know who Danny Boyle was…he read the script and he said you have to do it…my children are very very…

Very aware…

Very aware and the kind of films they want me to do

And your daughter. Tell us some conversation you’ve had with her

Daughter…because I haven’t seen Delhi-6 yet. I have to see it I am seeing it tonight

But tell me,did you tell her any do’s and don’ts when she was getting into cinema

Yeah,yeah…what I said ki yahaan jo hein…sabse pehle tho yeh hein ki….you have to be very thick skinned,ok…completely,jo bole log,bolne do….aapko criticize karke,tho karne dho…you should know where you stand and…what else…I said,your nerves have to be completely of steel…

Thick skinned…..

Thick skinned,completely thick skinned,….there’ll be times when unnecessarily people will try to…you know…tho aapko ekdum completely,jo bolte hein na…moti chamdi…completely thick skinned,you have to be like that…and just keep on working,doing good,good work and you should excel yourself. That’s all I’ve told her absolutely

And did she come back and tell you something,some experiences she’s had in the movie ….and I need to ask you how you handled with such things

Well,there are times obviously,there are certain things which are written and she gets slightly perturbed,and upset

The Shoba De article I keep reading about in city supplements…..Shoba De said she and Deepika Padukone are not nice looking or something…or not glamourous enough

She was very upset. And then I tried to explain to her. You should not react,isme kya ho gaya,jab taareef karte hein log tho kabhi kabhi criticize bhi karte hein,thodi aapki taareef hoti. Slowly slowly she understands now. She’s a kid,obviously. She’ll understand. But she’s got a mind of her own. I can’t tell her…

You think she’s a kid,as if you’re a grown up.

No,no,I’m worse than her sometimes…actors have to be kids

But tell me one more thing about….That’s a good line…actors have to be kids,why?

I feel that excitement,that childlike quality…you know,you don’t get excited about everything in life….

Innocence

Innocence

If you don’t have the innocence,you can’t become another person in a movie

Wo shakal pe aa jaatha hein…thing is..

That’s what I say about someone like Jack Nicholson,whatever role he plays,he looks like that person

Ah,yes

You don’t immediately say that’s Jack Nicholson

He’s a phenomenal actor,absolutely fantastic. I love his films,I love his works. I would love to be a Jack Nicholson. I would love to be a Shawn Connerey. I would love to a Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood is someone I look up to now. He’s 78 years old and he’s still doing great films

You have a quarter century to yourself.

Haan,pacheez saal ho rahe hein,choodenge thodi

Tell me one more thing. One more thing that you and I have in common,that we’ve never shaved off our moustache for anything

You know,ek bath bathaavo aapko. I remember when I started my careet,Manmohan Desai whom I admire a lot,I wish I could work with him…mooche waale jo hero kabhi star nahin ban sakte

He said so?

He said so and he compared me to some actors and all whom I also admire. I said I am going to prove him wrong and you know,then when Ishwar released and I had a spate of successes one by one… about 13-14 releases and all were super hits and I remember after Ishwar,he called me up and said hats off to you,I take my words back,you are the hero with the moustache

You shaved it off twice

Both the films have flopped

Lamhe and… Salaam-e-ishq,dhono nahin chale

Salaam-e-ishq I won’t blame you for the flop

But Lamhe is till today,one of my favourite films,it’s one of Yashji’s favourite films. Overseas it did pretty well,it was a…

Another movie I saw on a flight. I liked it…

You liked it? Thank you

I think the only thing missing was the moustache

Moustache,yeah,yeah…everybody hated me without the moustache. I don’t know why. They just want me to be with the moustache

So what’s next now…there’s Slumdog and Slumdog’s a high,so when there’s high ends

Well,I think everthing’s gonna be…this whole journey is going to get over,because,you know,I’ll be leaving for the States,LA and the Oscars and uske baadh ek hafta thoda rahega,and uske baadh,we have to look out for different jobs

You produced a wonderful film,Gandhi My Father

Yes

In fact,you did a special showing for us. It was a wonderful movie. Do we see some more of that from you

Definitely,100 per cent

Because Slumdog will make profits and part of that will come to you. Will some of that go into good cinema

100 per cent. We,in fact,my whole family…we’ve never thought of amassing wealth and bank balances or…bank balances abhi bhi kaali kaali hein…usme kuch zyaada paisa tha yi nahin

Abhi bank bhi dhoobh rahe hein. What’s the point?

Our lives have completely been with films…make films and you know,I think that’s what I am going to do till my…you know,till I am …they say….I’ll die with my…kya bolte hein who..kya kahwat hein ki angreezi ki…you know,till my last breath….I am going to make films

Till your last breath,you’ll breathe movies I know

Absolutely,I’ll breathe movies

And as we said throughout this conversation,you’ve got time. So you’ve got time to catch up with Clint Eastwood,you’ve got time to catch up with more younger women and you try to act in wonderful movies and redefine yourself and in fact,make brilliant movies

Thank you Shekhar,thank you so much.

All the very best

And I hope I can live upto everybody’s expectations and what I want,I want to constantly enjoy my work. That’s what I feel and I tell everyone,and I tell my children

Also…

I suppose that’s the key to eternal youth…if you are enjoying your work,you don’t age

I love my work,absolutely

Thank you very much on that note,Anil. Very inspiring for people of your age group

I am elder to you

I’ll take that

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